Wildlife plays a vital role in maintaining the balance of our ecosystem. It serves various purposes ranging from protecting our biological diversities to maintaining our cultural ethos. Wildlife is indispensable for striking a crucial balance that enables us to live and grow. However, with growing modernization and globalization, we are facing a climate crisis and our wildlife in India is decreasing day by day. Now, we are learning about wildlife conservation in India and the Importance of Wildlife Conservation. The government has done the wildlife conservation efforts in India. In this article, we will explore the meaning of wildlife conservation, the importance of wildlife conservation and the projects initiated by the government.
Table of Contents
What is wildlife?
As the term “wildlife” itself suggests, it means undomesticated or grown in the wild. In simple terms, it refers to all the flora and fauna that live in their natural habitat.
The term wildlife is also defined under Section 2(37) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. As per the section, wildlife refers to any animal, either aquatic or territorial, and vegetation that constitutes our natural habitat. In simple words, it means all the plants and animals that live in the natural habitat will be considered our wildlife. These organisms are very important for maintaining the ecological balance and help us to fulfil our needs.
Introduction of wildlife conservation
Wildlife conservation is the process of steps taken by us to protect the wild species and their natural home. Because wildlife is one of the most important parts of the earth’s ecosystem. Due to the increasing population of the world, human is destroying the wildlife for food and shelter.
The destruction of our nature, environment and wildlife can be easily observed. The overexploitation of resources led to irreversible damage to our ecosystem. So, there is a stringent need to protect our wildlife.
Wildlife Conservation Meaning
Wildlife conservation refers to a method of protecting the wild species and their natural habitat from the threats like poaching, smuggling, killing etc. Through their protection, we can ultimately enhance, protect or restore our vulnerable ecosystem.
Various wildlife conservation efforts must be taken at both the national as well as at international levels. A good number of NGOs are also working for the same cause.
The convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (popularly known as CITES) is considered one of the most important agreements inked at the international level in 1973. This agreement listed our various species into various categories for their conservation.
Types of Wildlife Conservation in India
There are mainly two types of wildlife conservation in India
- In-situ conservation
In this, the species remain in their natural habitats and the places are protected by protecting the whole ecosystem of the place. For instance: wildlife sanctuary.
- Ex-situ conservation
In this, the protection of biodiversity or wild animals is taken from their natural habitat and shifted to a new safe place for their conversion. For instance -the zoo.
Legal Provisions for wildlife Conservation Efforts in India
In India, various laws provide for the conservation of wildlife, as well as overall biodiversity. The chief among them is the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 which was implemented to protect our wild animals, birds and plants. Further, a Wildlife Crime Control Bureau has been set up to curb illegal trade or smuggling of endangered species in the country. There are many constitutional provisions protecting the environment.
Under Article 51(g), the constitution of India also guarantees the protection of wildlife and compassion for living creatures. In addition to this, Article 48 also puts an obligation on the state to protect, safeguard and work for the improvement of forests and wildlife in the country. The subjects relating to the protection of wildlife are mentioned under the concurrent list, which means both the Centre and the state government is empowered to make law on this subject.
In the case of the State of Bihar vs. Murad Ali Khan (1989), the Honourable Supreme Court held that hunting has been defined under Section 2(16) of the Wildlife Protection Act. If the same is done without the permission of the forest authorities, the offence is punishable under Section 51 of the Wildlife Act.
Increasing the population of the world is the main reason behind the destruction of wildlife. We must take the necessary steps for wildlife conservation because it is also connected to us. But the question arises why is wildlife conservation important or what is the importance of wildlife conservation?
Importance of Wildlife Conservation
Our daily activities like Logging, poaching and agriculture expansion are causing the extinction of wildlife and loss of biodiversity. Human activity is pushing the wildlife species to near extinction. Due to the poaching, many species like rhinoceros and elephants are near extinction in Africa.
We are doing thousands of activities that are endangering the wildlife species in danger. We should do the conservation of forests and wildlife in India and every other country and protect these species because there are many benefits for humans and animals including taking steps for wildlife conservation. So, let us discuss the importance of wildlife conservation.
For the growth of crop
The small animals are like bees. Butterflies and birds play a vital role in the growth of crops and the production of food for humans. These animals aid in the pollination of crops. Pollination is dependent upon these insects. Whenever they travel from one flower to another, they carry pollen and make the process active.
Plants are playing a major role in medicine but many animals are important for the production of medicine. The venom from the king cobra is used for the medicine of leprosy.
For relaxing the mind
People always go to zoos and forests to see the wildlife in their habitat. According to the research, the person who watches animals every day and walks in the natural habitat is more stress-free than others.
Watching wildlife documentaries
Whenever we get bored, we start watching wildlife documentaries where we learn thousands of things about survival and it relaxes our minds.
To preserve culture
There are many plants and animals which are recognized by our ancient culture. By doing wildlife conservation, we are saving our heritage and culture. The wildlife conservation in India is working on this as many trees and animals are recognized as God and Holy.
For tourism attraction
The main reason for tourism to any specific place is to see its flora and fauna and natural habitat. Tourism is the best source of earnings. So, if we save the wildlife and their natural habitat, then it will be a profitable deal for that place.
For the protection of biodiversity
Our food chain is depending upon every animal. We take our food from nature, and it is important to make the balance in nature to save our food. The animals like tigers and lions are depended upon other animals for their food. But if the tiger or the lion dies, the other animals will get more population and they will eat all the plants which can cause a shortage of food.
For ecological activity
Plants and trees are very important for our ecological system as they give oxygen which is most important for humans. It is also balancing the carbon dioxide and oxygen on the planet.
For education and learning
The wildlife is important for education and learning for the children. The importance of education in our life is very important. By studying the wildlife, we can find many new ideas for survival which are important for our growth. If we teach our children about the importance of wildlife conservation, then they will be able to recognize their duties against animals and plants.
For the research of new plants
The main point for the protection of wildlife is that we can research new plants and trees.
As the climate is changing day by day, it is possible that we need new types of plants which can provide us with food. The research of new plants can help us to identify the new breeds of crops which can help us to survive in the future.
After reading all the points related to the importance of wildlife conservation, we can say that we must take major steps to save the wildlife so that the human can survive on this planet for more time.
To preserve it for the future generation
Many species were on the planet before our birth and which are extinct due to human behaviour. And possibilities are that some other species will be instinctive from the earth if we did not understand the importance of wildlife conservation. Our future generation will be able to see most of the species in future if we take the steps for wildlife conservation.
Wildlife Conservation Efforts in India
The term Conservation has not been explicitly defined in Indian statutes, but for general understanding, it means preservation, protection or restoration. These efforts are undertaken to ensure that the resources shall be used sustainably and that future generation also has access to these resources. Wildlife is a part of nature and it is our responsibility to protect it.
Conservation efforts are undertaken to integrate evolutionary theory with environmental reality. It helps us to predict how our wildlife would react to future environmental changes. In our rituals, there is the explanation of many trees and animals which are still considered the sign of God and are worshipped as God. In my opinion, these are the best steps taken by our Ancestors to save such types of trees and animals which are more important for the survival of humans because almost all the trees and animals which we worship are important to us.
Wildlife Conservation Projects in India
The Indian government has initiated various projects to protect wildlife in the country. Some of them are briefly described below-
- Project Tiger
The population of Indian Tigers started declining drastically as we were approaching the 20th century. A nationwide Tiger Census was conducted in 1972 to estimate the population of tigers in the country. From the finding, it came out that the large-scale development activities and establishment of industries led to deforestation, and further loss of habitat to the tigers.
So, keeping in mind the necessity, the Project Tiger was launched in 1973 at the Palamau Tiger Reserve, Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand. It was a centrally sponsored scheme governed by the Wildlife Act, 1972. For the administration of this project, the National Tiger Conservation Authority was set up under Section 38 of the Wildlife Protection Act in 2005.
In 1973, it started from 9 tiger reserves, but now it has substantially grown to fifty reserves. The Project has proven to be a significant success in the recovery of the tiger population in the reserved areas. As per the 2019 census, there are 2967 Bengal tigers in India.
- Project Snow Leopard
Project Snow Leopard was launched in 2009 to encourage inclusivity and a participatory approach to the conservation of this endangered species.
The Snow Leopard mainly inhabits the Himalayan landscape along with some states such as Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, etc. Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and IUCN has declared the snow leopard as a vulnerable species. They have been accorded a very high conservation status both nationally and internationally.
To encourage their conservation, International Snow Leopard Day is celebrated on 23rd October each year. The Government also launched the ‘First National Protocol on Snow Leopard Population Assessment’ in the year 2019, which encompasses the use of technology such as camera traps and scientific surveys.
This initiative was started with the combined efforts of the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program. More than 12 snow leopard countries including India, Pakistan, Nepal, Russia, China, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Mongolia are a part of this initiative.
- Project Elephant
Elephants are the National Heritage of our country. India has more than 27,000 elephants spread over 26 elephant reserves but with utmost dismay, only 65% of the elephant corridors are in protected areas.
This project was launched in the year 1992 by the central government. It was implemented in 13 states and 88 elephant corridors were set up. Under this project, the Haathi mere Saathi Yojna was started by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in partnership with the wildlife trust of India. To give true effect to this project, The Elephants’ Preservation Act, of 1879 was enacted.
- Sea Turtle Project
This project was launched in 1999 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in collaboration with UNDP. The Olive Ridley Turtle visits India during Winter. The task for implementing the policies framed under this project has been assigned to the Wildlife Institute of India. It is placed in the Vulnerable category on the IUCN list.
- Crocodile Conservation Project
The main objective of this project is to protect the population of crocodiles in their natural habitat. It is important to note that the “Gharial” is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN list.
- Project Dolphin
Recently, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has notified the Ganges River Dolphin as a National Aquatic animal. It was listed in Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
- Project Hangul
In the decade 1970, the Jammu and Kashmir Government in collaboration with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) started a project for the protection of Kashmir Red Stag and its habitat. This project was later on recognised as Project Hangul.
The Hangul or Kashmiri Red stag is a subspecies of the Central Asian Red Deer, which is mostly found in the region of Kashmir Valley and some parts of Himachal Pradesh. Initially, their population was approximately 5000 in number, but with growing urbanisation, it decimated to as low as 150 by the end of 1970. This project also aims to create an enclosure for the artificial breeding of the species.
- India Adopts SAWEN
The term SAWEN stands for the “South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network”. It is an intergovernmental wildlife support body, which was launched in 2011 at Paro, Bhutan. The main objective of SAWEN is to establish mutual collaboration for wildlife protection. The member countries of SAWEN are Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
- Captive Breeding Program
It can be understood as a selection of particular wild species bred in an artificial condition under the supervision of experts. This method is perceived as the last chance to preserve a species in the wild.
Threats to wildlife conservation efforts In India
In the present times, natural resources are used in abundance and it led to the scarcity of endangered species. Their population is declining day by day. As per a recent report, the wildlife population has decreased by a whopping 68% since 1970. There are various reasons behind it and some of them are enumerated below-
Since the human population is rising day by day, it results in an increasing demand for land and other things. The increasing demand for land ultimately results in deforestation which causes habitat loss to these animals.
It can be understood as the illegal trading of animals. It is increasing rapidly as the parts of animal bodies attract a very high value in the international market.
It can be explained as making use of something over our capacity. At present, the diminishing rate of species is very much faster than its recovery. Some species are overtly exploited to meet our human wants, which is a serious threat to our ecosystem.
- Climate change
Climate holds special importance in every aspect. In the past few decades, it is observed that due to global warming, the temperature of Earth is rising, which causes the melting of the glaciers, volcanic eruptions etc. Various species of the Himalayas have become extinct due to global warming.
- Natural or man-made Disaster
If we play with nature, it will play with us too!
We have reached a situation wherein we are witnessing deadly disasters almost every year. The unprecedented covid-19 pandemic is the best example for us, which put the entire world on standstill. Apart from it, earthquakes, floods, and land degradation have become quite common.
Methods of Wildlife Conservation
The following are the methods of wildlife conservation in India
- Habitat management:
- Establishment of the protected area:
- Rehabilitation of Endangered species:
- Captive breeding programme:
- Mass education:
- Promulgation of laws:
Wildlife conservation FAQ
What is Conservation?
The meaning of conservation is to prevent the natural world by taking some small and major steps toward our future. Because without the wildlife, humans will not survive for a long time.
What is wildlife conservation?
Wildlife conservation means the protection of wildlife. Wildlife is an important factor in our ecosystem, without their existence, the ecological balance will shift to an unbalanced state. There is a strong need for wildlife conservation. The action taken to save wild plant and animal species from extinction is called wildlife conservation.
No man or wild animal can imagine his life without nature.
How can we conserve wildlife?
We can make minor and major steps in our daily lives to conserve forests and wildlife, like fair use of natural resources.
Conclusion of wildlife conservation in India
Wildlife conservation is very essential for sustainable development. Wildlife conservation efforts in India are increasing now. Various efforts have been made at both the National and the International levels like Project Tiger, Project Elephant, Captive breeding program etc., But still, there is a long way to go. First and foremost, we should curb the overexploitation of our natural resources and put a combined step toward a better world and start the program to show the importance of wildlife conservation in our life. So that the people should understand their responsibilities and use the natural source least and only for the fair use.
Access to everything is dangerous, so we should take measures while using trees and animals for our food.